What’s going on in the northern Basin?


With heavy rain in the northern Basin last week getting the Barwon-Darling River flowing again, RGA is closely monitoring the situation. As of 9 March:

  • 230-285GL is now expected to make it into Menindee, starting to arrive mid-March.
  • This water will be enough to run a minimum flow regime in the lower Darling River for at least 12 months, and supply stock and domestic, as per the water sharing plan.
  • The Department will begin releasing water into the lower Darling as soon as possible, but the block banks creating temporary weir pools as an emergency drought measure need to be removed first and they need to plan for water quality issues.
  • No floodplain harvesting (FPH) has been authorised on the Barwon-Darling floodplain.
  • FPH embargoes have been lifted on Barwon-Darling tributaries upstream, such as the Namoi.
  • Embargoes on A, B, and C class river extraction licences have been lifted on the Barwon-Darling as well as the upstream tributaries,
  • These licences allow pumping when the rivers are at running at trigger heights, and progressively fall away as river heights fall, first C, then B, then A.
  • The situation is literally fluid. More rain is forecast in mid-March.
  • We will keep you updated, particularly on when Menindee flows could be expected to translate into supporting NSW Murray GS allocations in the 2020-21 water year.

Information sourced from conversations with Minister Pavey’s office, DPIE staff, and the following sources: Water NSW and NSW Department of Industry

Claire Miller 

Acting Policy Manager

Ricegrowers' Association of Australia

Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian